Colin Crowley, one of TL’s own—a customer service team member—will be bringing Harriman-Baines, his unnerving, psychological play, to the Dream Up Festival 2013, an innovative lineup of original drama, music, dance and poetry presented by The Theater for the New City from Aug. 18 to Sept. 18.
The story follows a recluse composer who has a supernatural relationship with the woman who writes the lyrics for his music. An opportunistic reporter corners and blackmails him into an interview uncovering troubling details about the composer’s collaboration and dismantling his delicate world of self-imposed isolation.
“It’s a play about loneliness and the fantasies we create for ourselves to keep us from feeling alone,” Crowley told Live Toast.
Harriman-Baines was largely inspired by ideas that surfaced while listening to musical soundtracks during the long commute Crowley used to have to work. “I’m a fan of obscure musicals, soundtracks that bring up evocative ideas, characters or themes different from that storyline,” he said.
He was especially taken with the musical from 1990, Hannah…1939, which Crowley describes as “eerie and tuneful.” He said he imagined other characters and scenarios that could fit to the soundtrack.
The popularity of paranormal shows like Ghost Hunters helped set the stage for the plot of Crowley’s play. Those shows center on communicating with the spirits, and Crowley said that he “turns [that concept] on its head” in Harriman-Baines.
While Crowley said there are funny bits to the psychologically eerie play, he is “more inclined to describe it as a tragedy.”
Written in early 2012, Harriman-Baines was a finalist for the new play contest (2012) sponsored by Distilled Theater Company, as well as for “The New Playwrights, New Plays Competition” sponsored by The Jeremiah Kaplan Foundation and The Arts Foundation of Cape Cod in early 2013. It found a home on the stage via On The Brink Theatre Productions, which was seeking “artistically breathtaking and socially relevant” theatre to present to festivals. Speerhead Theatricals, the musical/theatrical not-for-profit corporation that Crowley helms, is co-producing the play.
“It can be kind of nerve-wracking outsourcing your work,” Crowley said. However, during the 6-month period he worked with the director before play rehearsals, he felt very comfortable. He has been on board with casting choices and revisions in the script. They have been open with his editorial rights. “I have a lot of confidence in them, so it’s less inducing of nervousness,” he said.
Crowley, a versatile playwright-lyricist, has always enjoyed writing, but it wasn’t until 2006 when he wrote the first serious play of which he was proud. He’s been consistently producing musicals and plays since 2008. His screenplays have received distinctions in screenwriting contests, such as The Movie Deal! Contest and The PAGE International Screenwriting Competition, and his lyrics have accompanied songs performed in musical revues in London.
Crowley cites musical theatre lyricist Alan Jay Lerner (of My Fair Lady fame) and playwrights Tennessee Williams (renowned for A Streetcar Named Desire, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and The Glass Menagerie) and Peter Shaffer (an Englishman who won an Oscar for the screen adaption of his play Amadeus), as well as American novelist Edith Wharton, as some of his major influences. He says his musicals are simpler and comedic, while his straight plays tend to be dramas and tragedies, with darker, more complex story lines. In each play he writes, he aims to have an overarching theme or ideation concept. For Harriman-Baines, Crowley said, “I wanted to write a play that concentrated on loneliness and complemented the soundtrack.”
opens at the Theater for the New City at 155 First Ave. (between 9th
and 10 St.), New York, NY on Sunday, Aug. 18 at 2 p.m. It also has showings on Tuesday, Aug. 20, at 6 p.m.; Thursday, Aug. 22, at 6:30 p.m.; Saturday, Aug. 24 at 8 p.m.; and Tuesday, Aug. 27, at 6:30 p.m. For more info on the play Harriman-Baines
, visit HarrimanBaines.com.
To find out more about the Dream Up Festival, visit Dreamupfestival.org